Stomach Earth
Stomach Earth

So Mike “Gunface” McKenzie, the guitarist for Deathcore titans The Red Chord and Beyond the Sixth Seal has a Doom project. How should someone like myself who pretty much despises anything with the Deathcore tag (full disclosure: I can still rock Fused Together In Revolving Doors hard, and even dug Clients), but is a long time Doom fan feel about this?

I’ve probably listened to this record 20 times and am just having trouble describing where my opinions lie. Doom of all types seems to be the next big thing, next to Black Metal. It is getting almost impossible when checking out new bands to separate the wheat from the chaff. The amount of press this project and album has been getting from big draw sites like MetalInjection, MetalSucks, ThePRP, etc. has blown expectations for this album out of the water. Hell, that’s how I originally became interested. I have to imagine this is all going to add up to a lot of fair-weather fans.

Originally tagged as Funeral Doom, which it really isn’t, it definitely doesn’t stand up to Thergothon or Esoteric. It feels more Death / Doom if you’re being a Genre Nazi, but not in a Hooded Menace way and it’s certainly no Winter. So where does this leave us with Stomach Earth?

Mr. Gunface wields his unquestionable riffing chops in a much different manner here. I expected some sort of amalgam of tech-craziness along with the slow pummeling typical of any Doom record. What I got was a not completely remarkable, yet unexpectedly decent Doom / Sludge album. A few songs are not all that memorable. “Watchers,” the second track is a near 7-minute slow burner with very little heat. The massive growls and slow tempo are all par for the course on an album like this, and the only part of this song I find myself perk up for is the sludgy pounding at 3:35.

A lot of the songs are like this. I feel like I’ve heard it before, and then wedged in amongst the rough is a diamond of a riff sharp enough to slice me out of the lull. The standout track here is “Haunted By The Living,” starting off full-bore with a massive and catchy Doom riff, as slow as can be. At 0:50 comes the coolest riff on the record, and it sort of sounds like it wouldn’t be an out of place breakdown on any The Red Chord album, and that isn’t meant as a jab. It’s an awesome, memorable, hummable, headbang-able riff that sounds like he’s hitting the instruments as hard as he can without breaking them. This record is chock full of haunting riffs inside of songs I just can’t completely get behind. Sixth track “Reaching The Threshold” is another dim fire, but this one has additional fuel. Slowly inching in until a thunder of the full ‘band’ hits, a huge riff repeatedly crashes until a slow lead adds ambiance and atmosphere. After another ambient bridge, at 6:30 is another highlight riff that crawls along to 8:30 where one of the best transitions between riffs in the whole genre can be found. Creative transitions can be hard, or unnecessary to pull off at this speed solely because you can just begin interjecting a new riff at any time when there’s 3 seconds between each drum beat, but Gunface did it impressively here.

Stomach Earth was a hard record for me to review. I’m not sure I wanted to like it from the get go. I tried to go into it without any preconceptions. After a few listens, I knew I didn’t dislike it. I still am not completely sold on it because of its missteps, but man can this dude write a crushing riff. The memorable stuff I’ve found myself humming all day, it’s that catchy. There’s some creativity here in a sometimes stagnant genre, but I wish there was more. If you’re a Doom fan, don’t not check this out because of the affiliation. I almost wish he would have pushed himself to add in some of that crazy technical flair, break up the structures a bit, and inject some venom. While a successful and fairly convincing stab at the genre was made here, with a few more outstanding moments I feel I could have been floored by this album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick E
August 23rd, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Iwein

    I love this record. ‘reaching the threshold’ is an absolute killer song. I was really surprised someone like McKenzie came up with something like this.

    And i don’t say this just because Mr. McKenzie also digs my album a lot. Which hasn’t been reviewed here yet. Interminably waiting…


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